I vividly recall the first time I saw something called a “Macintosh,” a product of an unknown start-up Apple Computer. This little ivory-colored box was in a friend’s basement office and was only connected to the electrical outlet. As we huddled around its tiny black and white screen, it came to life with a little smiley face. Something in my very being sensed that we were peering into a window on the future. We were.
I am writing to you from the monastery in Atchison where 125 Benedictine nuns are eagerly awaiting 600 guests who are coming to watch the full solar eclipse. An astronomer from the Vatican will be here to speak and they are serving hot dogs on the lawn. One nun giggled as she pictured people stopping on the highway to see the moment that hasn’t happened for 99 years and will not happen here again in our lifetimes.
Pshew. Deep breath. Seriously!? Are we already at the end of summer!? I feel like I’m saying the same thing each year—because I am! The idea of summer that I’ve created in my head is never quite like the actuality of the summer that happens.
Maybe you and I want more than a strong and thriving church. Maybe what we are asking is how to be an extraordinary church. We’d like to be more than a collection of folks with similar values who love God. What we really envision is becoming a community where the spirit of God dwells.
The renowned Lutheran scholar Gordon Lathrop claims that one of the many amazing things about Christian worship is how we set this next to that, what he calls “juxtaposition.” We set Sunday next to the other six days of the week, for instance. We set the preaching of the word next to the table. We set the rhythms of Advent and Lent next to Santa Claus and March Madness, respectively. This set next to that.
I have been walking into the same building to come to “work” for 29 years. But today feels different. And new. And scary. And exciting. I am humbled by and grateful for the call you have extended to me to serve as Senior Minister.
At first glance, two books could not seem more different. Who Counts? is a numbers book for children ages 3-8 based on scripture stories. I pretty much “get” that one. The other is Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Everything I know about astrophysics I learned from “The Jetsons.”
As someone new to the staff, I’m still learning lots of vocabulary particular to our congregation. Terms like Pathways (when a lot of Sunday school classes come together for a special education offering at the 10:00 a.m. hour), Faithbook (a Bible study Carla leads, playing off the well-known social media site), and now the Gathering (an occasional get-together in the library on Sunday mornings for anyone interested in knowing more about joining).
Ask most church-going folks what they love best about Sundays and they will likely point to two things, worship services and a day of rest (even if the latter is more idealized thinking than reality). Skimming the newspaper, listening to National Public radio, enjoying some waffles, and, oh yes, sliding into a pew for some hymns, prayers, and a sermon; what a lovely Lord’s day morning.